At last, the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government unveiled itsEconomic Management Team (EMT) last week. But this was not withoutsome drama as many Nigerians expressed shock at the complete exclusionof the private sector, at a time that governments all over the worldare pushing the management of the economy into the hands of theprivate sector.Mr. Laolu Akande, senior special assistant to the vice president onmedia (SSA) listed the team’s key members to include the Minister ofBudget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma; the Minister ofFinance, Kemi Adeosun; the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment,Okechukwu Enelamah; the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),Godwin Emefiele; and Abraham Nwankwo, the Director-General of theDebt Management Office (DMO). He said the composition of the team wasnot static as Agriculture Minister Audu Ogbe and Information MinisterLai Mohammed as well as relevant permanent secretaries have also beeninvolved.Prior to unmasking members of the team, Yemi Osinbajo, the country’s VPwas saddled with steering the ship of the economic team of the nationas the chair of the National Economic Council. Even then it could notthen be seen as the economic management team of this administration,since NEC consists also of governors many of whom are from theopposition parties.It is instructive that the Vice President was in charge of supervisingand directing the preparation of the now discredited controversial andpadded 2016 budget which has been described by many as a huge fraud.Apart from the discrepancies and the monumental fraud contained in thenational document, it was gathered that a United Kingdon (UK) donoragency hired some incompetent individuals to help in the budgetpreparation when Nigeria is replete with top economists and financialexperts who could have successfully guided the budget preparationprocess.The directive by President Buhari sacking the director general of theBudget Office Mr. Yahaya Gusau, is an indictment on the incompetenceof the economic team as it is at the moment.If what the government can put together as an economic team isincapable of preparing a fiscal document in place for the smoothrunning of the economy, then what hope do we have as a nation with thecalibre of people saddled with the responsibility of managing theeconomy in the next couple of years?Truth be told, in Nigeria we have eminently qualified men and womenwho have the wherewithal to call the shot in matters of economy andfiscal management. As things stand now, what we have, as announced byMr. Akande as an economic team, is at best a cabal with microinterests in economic issues who are incapable of serving the economicneeds of our nation, Nigeria.We have no doubt in our minds that in terms of capacity this teamleaves so much to be desired. It is telling that this is the onlyperiod in Nigeria’s history where no thorough-bred economist is amongthe true drivers and managers of the nation’s economy. When the chipsare down the economy would be in the hands of the Vice President andchairman of National Economic Council and the Minister of budget andplanning who are both lawyers, as well as the Central Bank Governorand the finance minister none of who has a post-graduate degree ineconomics.For all it was worth, the economic management team under the pastadministration comprised of both government officials and successfulprivate sector people. This was in line with the thinking that forsustainable economic growth, the government can only create theenvironment for a private sector-led growth, which usually wouldreduce the issue of rent seekers and corruption in public enterprises.The idea of having private sector operators in the management team isthat it enables the government not only to control the planning mechanisms to ensure that theeconomy works for the people but also guarantees that you do notshortchange the private sector people who are obviously the drivers ofthe economy.Our advice to Mr. President is to do what is right by injectingcompetent hands and advisers into the economic team so that hisadministration can make the needed impact in the effective economicmanagement of our country’s resources.We need a carefully crafted economic agenda, that would provide thedirection out of the present challenge of dwindling oil revenue in amono-cultural economy, worsening unemployment and collapsing currency. Only a clear-thinking, inward-looking economic team will deliver thegoods.Nobody is challenging the headship of the economic team by VicePresident Yemi Osinbajo but what is worth doing at all is worth doingwell. If the All Progress Congress (APC) led government is to be takenseriously with its mantra of true change, it must do what is right inthe eyes of the electorates and the international community before webecome a laughing stock. Competent people including those withpedigree in the private sector must be brought into the economicmanagement team if it must be taken seriously. Square pegs in squareholes is what the economy requires at this time!
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